Gentle rescue robot sees through smoke
A GROUP of research leaders in Japan have developed a prototype of a construction robot for disaster relief situations.
This prototype has drastically improved operability and mobility compared to conventional construction machines.
This group, which comprises the universities at Osaka, Kobe and Tohoku, and Tokyo as well as the Tokyo Institute of Technology, developed construction robots for disaster relief in order to solve various challenges of conventional construction machines used in such situations. The project forms part of the Impact Tough Robotics Challenge Program (with the Impact the shortened name of the Impulsing Paradigm Challenge through Disruptive Technologies Programme).
The researchers aim to disrupt with technology using a machine with elemental technologies under development. Verification tests were performed on places that represented disaster sites, and a certain level of performance was confirmed.
Their prototype looks like an ordinary hydraulic shovel, but includes technology to quickly and stably control heavy power machines with high inertia; hydraulic sensors and haptic feedback to precisely control the force of the pinchers during tele-operated rescue missions; and support for a drone to get overhead or even in-door images.
Four fish eye lenses give the operator a 360° view of the rescue area from the roof of the robot.
The operator can operate the robot even in fog or smoke, using a far-infrared ray camera capable of viewing with longwave-length light.
The group said in a statement they are also developing new robots with a double rotation mechanism and double arms to achieve higher operability and terrain adaptability over, for example, broken slabs of concrete.
What looks like a little yellow machine is actually a rescue robot packed with technology to see in smoke and gently help lift people from broken buildings.